Proactively Addressing Web Accessibility: Strategy and Business Case

The text alternative to a PowerPoint presentation delivered by Dan Revellese, Director of Corporate Sales, HiSoftware Inc., at the April 30, 2008 meeting of Boston-IA.

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Slide 1:
Proactively Addressing Web Accessibility: Strategy and Business Case

Dan Revellese
Director of Corporate Sales
HiSoftware Inc.
603.578.1870, x22

Slide 2:

  • Overview of HiSoftware
  • Getting an Enterprise Web Accessibility Program Started
  • The Facts
  • Business Case
  • Case Study Examples
  • Components for a Successful Accessibility Strategy
  • Wrap-Up / Q&A

Slide 3:
Questions to Keep in Mind

  • How do we get started?
  • Why should management care?
  • Why is accessibility a smart investment for our company?
  • How should we structure and implement the project?
  • How can we avoid the major pitfalls?
  • How do we measure success?
  • How can we take the guesswork out of implementing Web Accessibility within our organization?

Slide 4:
HiSoftware Overview

  • Founded 1998
  • 4,000 World-wide Customers in 88 Countries
  • Industry-leading Technical Accessibility Solutions Vendor
  • Single Platform Solution
  • "Cynthia Says" Portal
  • Over 10 Million Users
  • Accessibility Partner for Microsoft and HP
  • Multi-tiered Distribution Channel
  • International Offices
  • USA / EU / Australia / Asia
  • Worldwide Resellers
  • Consulting Service Partners
  • Triple-digit Growth in Revenue

Slide 5:
Where to get Started on a Web Accessibility Program?

Self Assess: Ask yourself questions on where your organization currently stands on Web Accessibility?

  • Does our organization/company currently sell product or services to the Federal Government, State Agencies, or Universities/Colleges?
  • If Yes: It's possible there's been accessibility work done.
  • If No: Is this a market your company is looking to address?
  • What is the culture at the company?
  • Does the company have a Community Outreach program?
  • Does the company have employees with disabilities?
  • Is the organization more centralized or de-centralized?
  • Do you have a sense if top executives know about Accessibility?
  • Do you have a set of Corporate Coding Standards in place?

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Slide 6:
Know Thy Organization

Identifying the Stakeholders You Need Buy-in From

  • Development Manager, Interactive Marketing VP, QA, Legal, User-Experience Manager (Design Lead)
  • Do you know the reporting structure?
  • Are you in a position to Champion this idea, or do you need your boss to help Champion this idea?

Find Out What E-Commerce Projects are Currently Funded and What is on the Horizon for Fiscal Year

  • Is there a site re-design project?
  • Is Search Engine Optimization a project?
  • Are you switching CMS solutions?

Clearly Understand the Internal Process to Create/Publish Web Content/Web Applications

  • Do you outsource code development to third parties?

Slide 7:
Be Prepared When Talking to Your Boss (…And Stakeholders)

Know the Section 508 and WCAG Rules

  • Be willing to make a suggestion on what rules to deploy (which could include a custom hybrid approach).
  • Understand relationship to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Understand disability audience and Assistive Technologies (AT) usage.

Be Prepared to Talk High-Level Business Case

  • Define why this is important to the organization as a revenue opportunity.
  • Discuss the Legal and Business Risk.

Be Prepared to "Have a Suggested Game Plan" on how this can be Addressed within an Organization

  • Understand your options and approaches.

Get Commitment from Immediate Boss for Support on Taking this to the Next Level

Slide 8:
High-Level / Accessibility Standards

W3C Priority 1, Priority 2, and Priority 3 Guidelines

  • Accessibility Guidelines put together by the World-Wide Consortium standards group.
  • Most countries outside of the US use the W3C rules as their benchmark for Accessibility legislation (UK, etc.).
  • Rules are broken into three categories: Priority 1 is a must-have for web sites. Priority 2 are best-practices, and Priority 3 are considered best-case. Most companies look to be WCAG P1 and P2 compliant for Int'l web sites (non-US).

Section 508 Guidelines

  • US Accessibility Standards as defined in the 1998 Rehabilitation Act.
  • These Guidelines are a sub-set of the W3C Rules.
  • All Federal Agencies must have Section 508 Compliance web sites, and anyone the US Federal Government uses as a supplier/vendor. The burden is on the Government to purchase the most accessible technology/services.

1990 ADA Compliance: Does it Apply to the Web?

  • Does not specifically mention world wide web, but has been used for legal position within accessibility lawsuits. This law will most likely be updated to include "the web" in the next draft.

Slide 9:
Accessibility is Global: Legal Standards

United States

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Section 225 of the Telecommunications Act
  • Sections 504 & 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Workforce Investment Act of 1998
  • Assistive Technology Act of 1998


  • Common Look & Feel Law

United Kingdom

  • UK Disability Rights Commission recently invoked national law requiring all public website to meet accessibility requirements.
  • UK Disability Discrimination Act of 1995


  • EU announces 2003 "Year of Person with Disabilities" and commits web accessibility policy for member states,
  • European Union Public Policy for Web and "E-Inclusion"


  • E-policy for IT

Slide 10:
You Need Executive Buy-In for a Successful Long-Term Project

The Foundation of a Successful Accessibility Project relies on the level of dedication from the Executive Level, based on a solid Business Case.

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Slide 11:
Build Business Case / Make it Tangible: "Doing the Right Thing" is Not a Business Case

Clearly Articulate Business Opportunity

  • Calculate new potential revenue source.

Calculate Your Legal Risk

  • What would it cost you to defend a lawsuit by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB)? (…or, a "structured negotiation" from American Council of the Blind (ACB))
  • Look at recent history / case-law.

Define Business Risk / Risk to Brand

  • Are we losing business due to not having Accessible Web features?
  • Are we at risk for losing an existing customer?
  • What are the financial implications?

Slide 12:
Accessibility Facts: Business Case Opportunity / New Revenue Source

20% of US citizens reported to have a disability (US Census Data).

  • 1.4 million legally blind people in US (American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and National Federation of the Blind (NFB)).
  • 7.7 million US citizens have trouble seeing small newsprint (US Census data).
  • 1 out of 10 American men are color blind.
  • 8 million US citizens have trouble hearing conversations (US Census Data).
  • 6.8 Americans have trouble grasping objects (like computer mouse).
  • 43 million Americans have arthritis (The Arthritis Foundation)

$175 Billion Dollar discretionary income controlled by consumers with disabilities (US Census Data, reported by WSJ, article titled: "People with Disabilities are Next Consumer Niche")

  • What could this mean to your business?

Imagine how these numbers increase with all international disabled buyers, as Accessibility is Global.

It's an aging population on a Global Level (your customers and employees).

Slide 13:
Statistics on Disabilities by Age

  • 20% of Americans have Disabilities. (U.S. Department of Labor)

Slide 14:
Your Company will Need Accessible Web Sites

  • "In the United States, the number of workers aged 55-64 will have increased by more than half in this decade, at the same time as the 35-year-olds to 44-year-olds will decline by 10%" (p. 65).
  • Bottom Line: Companies must expect to retain, recruit, and hire more workers older than 65— over 42.3% of whom will have disabilities.
  • Are your intranet and web-based applications accessible? Are you meeting HR commitments?

Slide 15:
Business Case: Web Accessibility Benefits Everyone

Forrester Research Inc. (2003)

  • Studied effect of accessible technology for general population (with or without disabilities).
  • "In the United States, 60% (101.4 million) of working-age adults who range from 18 to 64 years old are likely or very likely to benefit from the use of accessible technology."
  • (Full study available at:
  • Sites are more Searchable, easier to navigate with proper mark-up, etc.

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Slide 16:
Business Case/ROI Example for Staples.Com

Stats posted within Internet Retailer Magazine:

  • Staples 2006 Web Sales: $4.9 Billion
  • Monthly Unique Visitors: 6,217,000
  • Conversation Rate: 9.62%
  • Average Order Size: $325
  • Projected Revenue Increase on just providing Accessible sites: $15,632,500
  • Taking 1% of the total accessibility market of 50 million users (500,000 users), using current conversation-rate (9.62%) and average order size ($325).

    This is an example for you to plug in your own numbers.

  • ROI: Immediate.

Slide 17:
Look at Legal Issues: Are you at risk?

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

  • Web sites can be "places of public accommodation" (United States Department of Justice (DOJ))
  • Federal courts have held that inaccessible web sites can give rise to violations ADA (Martin vs. MARTA)
  • Summary: Federal ADA suits for web accessibility are risky for everyone.

Slide 18:
Legal Issues: State Court Litigation and International Law

State Litigation

  • State lawsuits under ADA (e.g. New York Attorney General settlements for and
  • State suits to enforce state accessibility laws (NFB v. Target) and (NFB v. Cal State Univ.)

International Laws

  • UK: Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
  • Italy: Gazz. Uff. no. 13, art. 9 (Jan. 17, 2004)
  • Japan: Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities (May 28, 2004)

Slide 19:
Judge Summary Comments on Current Accessibility Case against Target

"…Functions provided on-line, that are available inside the physical store, need to be accessible…"

  • (Ex: Just as you provide ramp access to a building, you would provide a ramp access to your on-line store.)

"…It's not economically un-feasible to make web site functions accessible…"

* Case is still pending trial, but it has all the makings of being legal-precedent setting for all corporate web sites.

Slide 20:
Business Case: Legal Risk Avoidance

  • How much will it cost your organization to legally respond to a Lawsuit…? $30-50K
  • If you settle out of court, what damages would you have to pay on top of legal fees…? $50K - $1 million
  • If you appeal the case and/or go to trial, how much would this cost you…? Over $1 million
  • Imagine the legal fees Target has already committed to defending against this case…

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Slide 21:
Business Case: Business Risk

How much will it cost your organization to lose just one (1) deal from an RFP because you could not claim you have an accessible web portal?

  • If it's Fidelity or Vanguard,…could be millions of dollars of lost opportunity.

Do you have Federal GSA contracts at risk? How much are these contracts worth…?

* Note: Microsoft cannot sell its major portal solution Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) in New Zealand because MOSS currently does not meet accessibility standards. HiSoftware is working with Microsoft in resolving these concerns.

Slide 22:
Other Suggested Business Case Ideas

Building Accessible sites provides other benefits / Can be added to an existing or future project.

  • Improved Searchability (SEO)
  • Improved Document Management
  • Consistent Branding
  • Meta Data Quality (Keywords & Titles)

Expanding your commitment to Corporate Responsibility/Community.

  • Great PR for your firm: Put Press Release out that shows added commitment to serving all customers.

Slide 23:
Case Study 1: Successful Business Case

Large Computer Maker was Building Case to Make Web Site Fully Accessible

  • Has $120 million in GSA contracts at risk.
  • Calculated new revenue of $20-400 Million.


  • Support Manager started case, but was able to bring in VP of Customer Care.
  • VP of Customer Care got support from VP of Government Sales, then involved VP of Interactive Marketing, who owned .com (and CMS, Search).
  • Had demo meeting with Marketing Manager, Development Manager, and IT Operations Manager. All agreed on importance.

Cost was split between Marketing and IT/Development.

  • Had an Assessment and Hosted Monitoring Subscription.

Slide 24:
Case Study 2: Successful Business Case

House-Hold Name Retailer:

  • Motivated by not being the "Next Target".
  • Ability to use HiSoftware Solution to resolve other content issues: Privacy and Site Quality.


  • User Experience lead joined HiSoftware for webcast, recommended to his boss.
  • Ran sample Scan/Transaction for User Experience Manager, showed issues: He called in his E-Business Manager.
  • E-Business Manager saw value in how QA, Development, and third-party content providers can meet his standards.

E-Business Manager made purchase and billed back some cost to different departments.

  • Hosted Solution.

Slide 25:
Case Study 3: Successful Business Case And Implementation

E-Learning Web Application:

  • Motivated by $$ Business Risk: Major customers/prospects are Universities/Colleges that are now requiring Section 508.


  • Product Manager has RFP that requires 508 Compliance. This one deal is large enough to build business case for changing application, as well as future deal opportunities (use in pre-sales).
  • Product Manager gets Development Lead and Development Manager in for demonstration.
  • Short successful trial— Proof of Concept, showed Senior VP results of finding/fixing issues.

Development Manager places order for software and training on transaction-scripting / Now part of all "build process"

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Slide 26:
Common Pitfalls to Non Successful Attempts at Addressing Web Accessibility

"No Budget"

  • Don't have immediate boss and/or executive buy-in.

"…Have Higher Priorities"

  • Business case was not presented with tangible data.

"Too Complex an Organization"

  • Have not gotten proper stakeholders involved.

"…This Doesn't Apply to Us"

  • Lack of understanding of potential legal risk; organization is more reactive than proactive.

Slide 27:
Successful Long-Term Accessibility Program Includes:

Have Well Defined Goals / Success Criteria

  • Ex: WCAG P1, 508 Compliance

Ability to Baseline and Measure Over-All Progress Against the Goals

  • Use automated testing for Baseline Testing, Reporting to Executive Management / Have accountability.

Accessibility Training for Developers/Designers

Integrate Accessibility into the normal Dev/QA/Build-Publish process/User Testing

  • Build in easy-repeatable process for developers, content providers.
  • Include JAWS User Testing, ZoomText, etc.

Have Remediation Plan

  • Resolve high-value / transactional pages first, etc.

Put Accessibility in Contracts with 3rd-Party Vendors

  • Outsourced code, plug-ins, CMS solutions.

Slide 28:
Well Defined Goals / Success Criteria

Know what Accessibility standards you want to achieve and have them documented.

  • Discuss with Site Designers.

Put a Project Plan / TimeLine together to map out deliverables.

Solid communication between Usability, Development Manager/Managers, and Product Managers.

  • Make sure everyone is on the same page and has the same project expectations.

Slide 29:
Baseline Current Accessibility for Each Web Site / Measuring Progress

Automated Testing and Reporting allows organizations to look across entire web sites for Programmatic Errors and Measure Progress.

  • Great for setting Initial Baseline and spotting problem areas, coding trends, gauge work to be addressed.
  • Ability to track/measure progress for each web site, sub-domain (Tangible Reporting).
  • Add to Web Metrics that are reviewed by executive management.
  • Measuring stick for any projects developed by 3rd-party firm.
  • Ability for On-demand testing by developers up-stream, workflow inside of CMS.

Slide 30:
Accessibility Training

It's very important to have some level of technical accessibility training for developers and designers.

  • Teach Accessibility principles.
  • Get past the myth that making things accessible will reduce creativity.

Engage reputable Accessibility Consulting Companies

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Slide 31:
Integrate Accessibility into Normal Development-Build Process

Have a process for developers /content providers to test new pages as they are developed (save the rendered HTML, templates)

  • Build into CMS publishing process.
  • Build into Development tools as unit test.
  • Build into QA as milestone testing / Bug Tracking.
  • Have a vision-impaired user validate results with JAWS and/or Window-Eyes.
  • Baby Steps to Nirvana.

Goal being to push Accessibility Testing upstream in Development Cycle as far as possible.

Slide 32:
Plan for Remediation: Don't have to "Boil the Ocean", Start with High Impact Pages

Suggestion would be to go after your High Impact Transactional Pages / Page Templates:

  • Home Page, Product Landing pages, Shopping Cart, Contact Us pages, Career pages, "Apply for" pages.
  • Use your Web analytic tools for finding the most viewed pages.

Get Commitment from Development Manager on putting changes into Development Cycle.

Have an outside consulting company help you with making changes for you.

Slide 33:
Build Accessibility into Contracts

Talk to your Procurement Manager, ensure that they are asking for Accessibility (508, WCAG) on any 3rd-party products/projects / Add to RFP questions.

  • Outsourced career pages.
  • Alt Text for external Banner Ads.

Have Accessibility as part of your User Acceptance Testing (UAT) for any third-party developed code.

  • Outsourced overseas, Marketing firms.

Slide 34:
Wrap-Up: Be Proactive

  • Addressing Web Accessibility offers a Solid Business Case for driving new revenue.
  • Being proactive will reduce your chances of Legal and Business Risk.
  • With Target Case, Section 508 "Refresh", WCAG 2.0, "Refresh" on ADA… This will soon to be law for all organizations… Get ahead of this sooner rather than later.
  • Addressing Accessibility helps everyone and can add to the business case of other projects.
  • Your brand is everything: By addressing Accessibility, only positive things can happen for your company.

Slide 35:
Industry Analyst Quote

"HiSoftware should be seen as an essential aid to the process of web site design, test, and monitoring. The outcome will be a better user experience and an ultimate increase in the bottom line."

— Peter Abrahams, Accessibility Analyst Bloor Research

Please contact Dan Revellese from HiSoftware if you have any further questions on accessibility, or would like more information on HiSoftware.

Slide 36:
Accessibility Resources

HiSoftware's Cynthia Says™ Portal:

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C):


Section 508:

United States Access Board:

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